Alan Simpson beamed with pride as he listened to the Pride of Payson Marching Band perform before a small crowd on Payson High School football field on Nov. 12.
The director of bands for PHS and Rim Country Middle School praised the members of the band who’ve dealt with COVID-19 restrictions this year including cancellation of all competitions this fall and their December concert and the inability to travel to away varsity football games.
They were limited to performing briefly at the four home football games and the free outdoor concert.
“COVID-19 has impacted our band in a huge way,” Simpson said. “We love to compete, and the students have been impacted most by the cancellation of competitions.”
The number of band members shrunk from 33 last year to 25 this year.
“Our numbers have diminished as parents have made the hard decision to keep their kids at home,” Simpson said. “We understand the difficult decisions parents have made both to keep their kids at home and to send them to school.”
They adopted the motto: “Roll with it.”
“Pun intended (because of) the toilet paper shortage earlier in the year,” Simpson said with a smile.
And that’s what they’ve done.
“The students have been disappointed, but resilient in their efforts to entertain spectators at halftime at home football games,” Simpson said. “I am proud of their efforts this year, especially as they have dealt with distance learning, and the anxiety of returning to in-person instruction. I applaud their efforts during these arduous times.”
They warmed the small crowd gathered on a chilly night with temperatures in the low 40s with their performance of 14 songs in 40 minutes in the free concert. They opened with “The Star-Spangled Banner” and closed with the “Payson School Fight Song.”
In between they covered John Williams’ “Olympic Fanfare and Theme,” Samuel A. Ward’s “America, the Beautiful,” Paul Francis Gadd’s (Gary Glitter) “Rock and Roll Part 2,” aka “The Hey Song,” Youngblood Brass Band’s “Out of the Red and Into the Black,” “Never Gonna Give You Up,” written by Stock Aitken Waterman and recorded by Rick Astley, Toto’s “Hold the Line,” Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” “I Want You Back,” written by The Corporation and made famous by the Jackson 5, “I Want It That Way,” written by Max Martin and Andreas Carlsson and performed by the Backstreet Boys, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” and Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4.”
This year’s band features four seniors: Ethan Meredith (drum major), Zander Johnson (tenor sax), Richie Hobson (tuba, bari sax) and DJ Pedler (percussion); 10 juniors: Garett Baker (percussion), Stone Best (trumpet), Josh Burket (tenor sax), Emilio Diego (alto sax), Hailey Dominguez (alto sax), Doyle Figueroa (tuba/bari sax), Cooper Rogers (trumpet), Andrew Stage (trumpet), Lilly White (flute) and Isaac Willis (alto sax); four sophomores: Rylee Adolph (percussion), Maddie Ashby (clarinet), Rayn Romero (clarinet) and Braden Soos (percussion); and seven freshmen: Chasity Burdette (trombone), Chloe Hancock (tuba, bari sax), Joselin Mendoza (clarinet), Aidan Meredith (trumpet), Shaylee Phillips (flute), Chris Snyder (trumpet) and Teagan Williams (flute).